the_jaded_one comments on Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: the_jaded_one 29 October 2017 04:57:31PM *  5 points [-]

The idea of introducing social justice into an existing movement has already been tried, and I think it's worth going over the failures and problems that social justice has caused in the atheist movement before jumping headlong into it in the EA movement. This reddit page about why Atheism+ failed makes for interesting reading: https://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/2ygiwh/so_why_did_atheism_plus_fail/

Unfortunately, the people who ended up in charge of the movement cared much more about perpetuating their radical ideologies, their cults of personality, and their easy paycheques than any of these issues. ... No matter how noble your cause, someone who practices dishonesty, censorship, intimidation, and harassment in alleged pursuit of that cause is not your friend.

See also this: https://athefist.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/the-atheism-plusftb-problem/

Attempts to interfere with harassment policies and promoting the (unevidenced) idea that atheist meetings are hotbeds of sexual exploitation have slashed female attendance at events like TAM which were practically on 50/50 parity. Rather than trying to invest in the future of the movement or seek the best and most effective speakers there’s an insistence on the basis of gender rather than expertise. Not that there aren’t good speakers of all genders but when you pass over expert male speakers to include sub-par ones with axes to grind rather than progress to make that’s an issue

it continues:

There’s also something peculiar in claiming to be atheists and skeptics while suspending skepticism when it comes to certain claims – like the highly questionable 1-in-4 rape statistic or broader concepts like patriarchy and rape culture. Skepticism or demands for evidence in these arenas is treated as hostility.

The post by Kelly that I am responding to seems to contain several red flags indicating that EA+SJ is falling into the same traps that Atheism+SJ fell into;

  • suspending healthy skepticism of questionable claims,
  • advocating identity categories over competence,
  • supporting the silencing of dissenting opinions and abandoning free speech

As I said in another comment: don't say you weren't warned if this goes badly.

Comment author: Kelly_Witwicki 29 October 2017 06:46:57PM *  0 points [-]

Regarding your "red flags":

1) The post does not advocate for identity categories over competence, but competence over identity categories. As I've argued, we're missing out on a lot of people because they don't match irrelevant criteria.

2) No skepticism of questionable claims has been suspended. You are welcome, as others have, to point out what claims are too confident and why. You'll note that I've edited the post to qualify a claim I made that a commenter pointed out is debated in the literature, and an implication I made that a commenter convinced me I made too confidently.

You are also welcome to provide arguments for the position you seem to take that the status quo (or an even more exclusive community, which we may be becoming) is better than a more inclusive community. Bringing up the risk is a valuable contribution to this discussion and I really appreciate it. Let's go further with our analysis of tradeoffs and discuss specific steps we can take to become more inclusive while limiting the risks in either direction, and let's have a healthy skepticism of the status quo.

3) A dismissal of the whole project of inclusion because of the risk that it will go too far is itself something of a silencing of dissenting opinions and an abandoning of free speech. As I said very explicitly in my comment about free speech, the term is often used to justify speech that pushes people out and reduces the diversity of opinions in the community and the freedom that people have to speak. The question is where the line is -- and it's probably a blurry, messy one -- and how we should address transgressions of it to keep our debates as free and productive as possible.

Comment author: Kelly_Witwicki 29 October 2017 06:33:47PM 0 points [-]

I already commented this on your earlier, similar comment, but since you're repeating this here I will too so it's not missed:

I entirely appreciate the concern of going too far. Let's just be careful not to assume that risks only come with action -- the opposite path is an awful one too, and with inaction we risk moving further down it.